En­hanced care pilot un­der­way

Owner of Calling­wood Downs says pro­ject in­tro­duces new era of care for se­niors

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - Edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

A pilot pro­ject de­scribed by sup­port­ers as the in­tro­duc­tion of a new era of care for se­niors is now com­ing on­line at the Calling­wood Downs se­niors com­plex in Clarke’s Beach.

Known as the “En­hanced Care in Per­sonal Care Homes Pilot Pro­ject,” it will see up to eight se­niors re­ceiv­ing what’s be­ing called en­hanced Level II care, thereby al­low­ing them to “age in place” at homes like Calling­wood longer be­fore mov­ing to a pub­licly funded nurs­ing home, and ease pres­sure on an al­ready stretched pub­lic purse in which nearly half of ev­ery tax dol­lar is spent on health care.

The pilot pro­ject was an­nounced in June by Health Min­is­ter Su­san Sul­li­van, with some $1.5 mil­lion al­lo­cated for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­ject at three per­sonal care homes — Calling­wood Downs, Golden Years Es­tates in Gan­der, and Moun­tain View House in Mead­ows.

The pilot will last for 18 months, and it will then be de­ter­mined whether the pro­gram can be de­liv­ered on a larger scale.

It was of­fi­cially launched at Calling­wood ear­lier this month, and prospec­tive can­di­dates are now be­ing screened, said Bev­erly Rus­sell, owner of Calling­wood Downs and pres­i­dent of the Qual­ity Liv­ing Al­liance for Se­niors, which is an um­brella group for the 25-plus large per­sonal care homes in the prov­ince.

In prepa­ra­tion for the pro­ject, Rus­sell hired Cupids res­i­dent Madonna Chaulk, a long-serv­ing reg­is­tered nurse with a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence in the pro­vi­sion of long-term care, and li­censed prac­ti­cal nurse Karen Crane of South River, who has worked in acute and long-term care set­tings for 13 years.

Chaulk and Crane add to the com­ple­ment of nearly 40 em­ploy­ees on staff at Calling­wood.

“They have added a great deal of pro­fes­sion­al­ism to our abil­ity to meet the med­i­cal and long- term care needs of all of our res­i­dents,” said Rus­sell.

Rus­sell added that adding well­trained med­i­cal staff will also re­duce emer­gency room vis­its by res­i­dents, since their health needs can be bet­ter as­sessed at the home.

The home has also in­stalled new bathing sys­tems, state-of-the-art hos­pi­tal beds, a nurs­ing sta­tion and much more, said Rus­sell.

“It’s all about pro­vid­ing a bet­ter level of care,” she noted.

In­spired by fam­i­lies

Rus­sell, who has worked in the long-term care sec­tor for more than three decades, de­signed the pro­gram and sub­mit­ted it to the prov­ince for con­sid­er­a­tion.

She was in­spired by fam­ily mem­bers who con­tin­u­ally ask that their loved ones be able to stay longer at Calling­wood Downs, and re­ceive the higher level of care they re­quire.

“As an al­liance, we have been lob­by­ing the provin­cial govern­ment to en­gage our in­dus­try to pro­vide higher lev­els of care, both in our fa­cil­i­ties and in se­niors’ homes,” Rus­sell stated last week.

As such, Rus­sell has also de­signed a pro­gram that could as­sist se­niors still liv­ing in their homes, pro­vid­ing ser­vices such as recre­ation, so­cial in­ter­ac­tion and nu­tri­tion.

“We are in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the govern­ment to try and give legs to this pro­gram,” she said, adding she be­lieves such pro­grams will en­hance the provin­cial govern­ment’s 10-year long-term care strat­egy, called Close to Home.

She said the early feed­back from res­i­dents and fam­ily mem­bers about the pilot pro­ject is very pos­i­tive.

“They’re all so ex­cited about this,” she said “Fi­nally, the wheels are in mo­tion for peo­ple to be able to live here longer.

“There are just so many ben­e­fits to this.”

Sus­tain­able health care

Calling­wood Downs is a 100-bed per­sonal care home that opened in 2001, mak­ing it one of the first “large” homes to open in the prov­ince. Since that time, pri­vate op­er­a­tors have in­vested some $300 mil­lion into some two dozen such com­plexes through­out the prov­ince.

Th­ese com­plexes have changed the face of se­niors’ care in the prov­ince, and Rus­sell be­lieves many more en­hance­ments are pos­si­ble.

She be­lieves such a pro­gram is “very sus­tain­able” for the provin­cial govern­ment, since homes like Calling­wood “can stretch the tax dol­lar twice as far.”

“We all know that about 46 per cent of the pub­lic purse goes to health care, and that’s just not sus­tain­able.”

She em­pha­sized, how­ever, that it’s not just about cost-sav­ing.

“I’m driven by the fact that I want to pro­vide a high qual­ity care to se­niors,” she ex­plained. “This is a new era for se­niors as they age and some­thing they de­serve.”

She said it’s of­ten very dif­fi­cult for se­niors to make the tran­si­tion into a per­sonal care home, though many come to view it as their “home away from home” be­fore long. And it’s even harder still to make the tran­si­tion into a nurs­ing home, which of­ten has the feel of an “in­sti­tu­tion,” she said.

She ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion that “the govern­ment is lis­ten­ing to our ex­per­tise. It’s very en­cour­ag­ing for our in­dus­try, but es­pe­cially so for our se­niors and their fam­i­lies.”

Even be­fore the pilot pro­ject was an­nounced, Rus­sell said Calling­wood Downs has long pro­vided care be­yond Level II, with some res­i­dents wait­ing for up to six month to be placed into a nurs­ing home.

“We know we can do this,” she said.

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Bay Roberts na­tive Alice Mercer, 95, shares a laugh with RN Madonna Chaulk (left) and LPN Karen Crane (right) dur­ing a stroll down the cor­ri­dor at Calling­wood Downs se­niors com­plex in Clarke’s Beach re­cently.

An ex­te­rior view of Calling­wood Downs se­niors com­plex in Clarke’s Beach.

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